ROGERSVILLE - The felony vandalism charge lodged last year against former Hawkins County Deputy Stacy Vaughan was dropped Thursday by Third Judicial District Attorney General Berkeley Bell.
The charge was expected to go before the Hawkins County grand jury Thursday, but Bell signed the motion dismissing the charge before any evidence was presented to the grand jury.
In the motion, Bell cited "insufficient evidence" as the reason for the dismissal.
"I reviewed the file and talked to my assistants and was informed that the victim in the matter involving the damaged vehicle did not wish to pursue a criminal prosecution," Bell told the Times-News Thursday. "They had in fact testified to that in the previous general sessions court hearing. If I didn't have a victim wanting to go forth with the prosecution, I wasn't going to press it myself."
Vaughan, 32, 1652 Stanley Valley Road, Surgoinsville, was arrested by the Hawkins County Sheriff's Department on Sept. 8 as a result of an altercation with his wife in which Vaughan was accused of shoving her to the ground. Vaughan was also accused of kicking and denting a car that had been loaned to his wife by the Phil Bachman Honda dealership for a test drive.
In a preliminary hearing held in November in Grainger County, a domestic assault charge against Vaughan was dismissed. But a felony vandalism charge stemming from the $950 in damage Vaughan allegedly caused by kicking the car was bound over to the Hawkins County grand jury.
During that hearing, Vaughan's attorney, Jack Marecic, presented the court with a letter from a Phil Bachman Honda manager stating that the dealership had been compensated for the damage and had no intention of pressing any charges.
Vaughan, who is also a former county commissioner, was fired from his position at the sheriff's department in December. At the time Sheriff Roger Christian didn't release a reason for the firing because he didn't want to influence public opinion while Vaughan's vandalism charge was still pending.
"Mr. Vaughan is no longer a member of my office, and therefore any comment on the criminal charges is unnecessary," Christian said Thursday evening. "I would never fire anybody without cause, and our internal investigation led to his dismissal."
Vaughan told the Times-News Thursday he'd been confident from the beginning of this outcome to the charges, and he's glad the troubles are behind him. Vaughan said he looks forward to resuming his career in law enforcement, as well as continuing to work his farm in the Stanley Valley community.
Marecic said he was surprised by the level of support that Vaughan received from the public during the past five months.
"I have never been involved in a case where so many people have come to my office or called me expressing their support for a client," Marecic said. "The public was behind Stacy Vaughan in this matter, and we are so glad that this is behind him now. Both of the charges against him were career-ending charges, and he could not have worked in law enforcement for the rest of his life if he'd been convicted.
"But the case is dismissed, as we thought it would be, and he can now get on with his life."